About a week ago, the results of CA Final were announced. I was more than delighted when I checked my result and came to know that I had cleared the examination. The realization that I was finally a qualified Chartered Accountant, took its own sweet time to sink in.
Since then, a lot of students have approached me to understand the right way to study. I also got an opportunity to discuss the ways of optimizing study time and improving chances of clearing, with several rank holders. I was surprised to note the similarity in their study pattern and techniques which lead to success. It dawned upon me, that students across the country who could benefit from such techniques. Thus, the idea of this article took birth.
Let's begin with the fundamental question, that has bothered CA students since forever -
What is the most important element for cracking CA final examination? Is it the knowledge that you have, or the number of hours you put in to study? While these things are important, what is more important is the ability to re-collect and re-produce the required content in a span of three hours, the time given for writing the examination. In this article, we will learn how to prepare to get the optimal performance during the exam hours.
Starting now, we have three months for the examination. Allocating one month for study of each group (Aug & Sept) and one-month (Oct) for revision (and mock tests) we can complete the syllabus in a very comfortable manner.
Now, that the fundamental question has been tackled, let's consider other common difficulties that students may face. These are:
Q.1 What material should I refer, to begin with my studies?
Ans. Refer your existing material (i.e. class notes or the reference books you are comfortable with) to understand the concept well.
Q.2 How to decide the new books to be purchased or classes I should go for?
Ans. If you want to buy new books, please go through 2-3 authors, take time deciding your comfort level and then purchase it. Similarly, for classes or video lectures, see a minimum of one video on YouTube of the respective professor and take the decision.
Q.3 I always write complete answers in exams and yet, proper marks are not awarded to me. What should I do to avoid this and secure better marks for questions I attempt?
Ans. This happens because the answers we give are not up to the expectations of the examiners. To address this, here is what we can do:
1. Let's begin with the practice manual. At this stage, you are not supposed to read the solutions/answers given.
2. Select approximately 20% of the questions for written practice. Write the answers to these questions in your notebook, without referring to the solution provided in PM.
3. Compare the answer you have written with that provided in the practice manual. Notice the discrepancies in the answer style, language, format and presentation. Re-write the answer and compare again.This will ensure that for every answer that we write in the examination, we score better marks.
Q.4 What are the additional material that I should refer, after my main book and PM?
Ans. In addition to above, please refer Mock Test Papers (MTP), Revision Test Papers (RTP) and Past Papers of three attempts prior to yours. Eg, if your attempt is Nov 2017, refer the papers for May 2017, Nov 2016 and May 2016.
Q.5 I am not able to write answers in the exam. Sometimes, I go blank and at other times I am not able to complete the paper.
Ans. When we are under high stress, we tend to forget even what we know. Th same thing happens during the exams as well. Hence, it is very important to practice writing, under exam-like conditions. You may do this by:
1. Appearing for test series offered by your coaching classes.
2. Appear for the mock test papers organized by the Institute.
Q.6 It is so difficult to revise everything just a day before the exam. How do I go about that?
Ans. A 'Super Short Summary' would be helpful to revise the entire subject in a very short span of time. For theory subjects, prepare 'one liner version' of all PM Qs and Study Mat illustrations. Similarly, for practical subjects, make a list of all important adjustments in Qs and how they should be dealt with. Also, mention respective page nos. from the reference material so that in the case of doubt, you can check quickly.
Q.7 How frequently should I revise, for maximum retention?
Ans.It is said, ‘Out of sight, out of mind'. Revision is the most crucial part of the preparation. To understand this, let us take an example of a theory chapter of law. On day one, we study 'Directors'. We will revise the same at day-end in one hour. Now, the second revision will take place on next day (i.e. 2nd day of the month).
This would take only 30 mins now, as it has already been done the previous night. We will revise this chapter the third time on the weekend, in a maximum of 15 mins. The fourth revision will come in at the end of the month, where we will take approx. 7 mins to revise the same concept.
Total time taken will be as under:
Daily Revision Time: 1 hour (today's topic) + 30 mins (yesterday's topic) = 1.5 hrs
Weekend: Above 1.5 Hrs + 5 days * 15 mins = Max 3 hrs
Month End: Above 1.5 Hrs + 7 mins * 28 = Max 5 Hrs
So, by the end of the month, we would have completed the revision of the topic exactly four times!
Tips for Study
Based on above, the following are important tips:
1. Study the concept from your existing notes/reference book.
2. Practice writing from the practice manual (20% Qs)
3. Prepare summary of all PM Qs (theory) and all-important adjustments (practical subjects)
4. Frequent revisions based on above schedule
5. Appear for test series and mock tests.
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